All Macs In-Depth Tests
MP3 Encoders Head-to-Head SoundJam Vs N2MP3

The graphs below represent a comparison of two popular MP3 encoders, SoundJam from Casady & Greene and N2MP3 from Proterion. For our tests we used our trusty Power Mac 9500 with an XLR8 G3/400 Carrier upgrade installed. The CD drive was the standard Matshita 8x that came with this machine. With the exception of our "File Size" tests, we left the bit rate setting at 128kbps. This represents a happy compromise between file size and sound quality. For our tests we chose an average length track and a rather long track off two separate CD's. For both cuts we tested the time to encode to the MP3 format as well as the time to "Rip" the file uncompressed as an AIFF file. All times are in seconds with lower numbers being more desirable of course. Bear in mind that SoundJam has been optimized for the G4's Altivec/Velocity Engine instruction set. G4 owners should expect significant reductions in encode times over the scores below...

For these first two tests, we chose a set of polkas from John Whelan's excellent "Flirting With the Edge" CD. This track was 4:07 minutes long. Lower numbers and shorter bars are better.

 




For the next two tests we chose a 24:01 minute track off Anthony Phillip's "Slow Dance" CD. Again, lower numbers and shorter bars are better

 



For this last test we encoded the same track with several different bit rate settings. As I mentioned at the beginning of this page, 128kbps is a happy medium between sound quality and file size. I was quite content with the files I sampled at 128kbps...until I heard the same tracks at 256kbps! Fortunately, both programs let you choose a bit rate between 32kbps and 320kbps so you can find your own happy balance.


Conclusions: SoundJam, in varying degrees, lagged behind N2MP3 in every test. If speed is your main consideration, go with N2MP3. Bear in mind however, that N2MP3 is strictly an encoder and requires a separate application for playback. I found SoundJam to be more intuitive to use and appreciated its included player which sports a 10 band equalizer. Demos are available for both applications so give them a try.